Edinburgh sits proudly as Scotland’s capital and has long held a solid reputation for live music, albeit today it is perhaps more famous for the annual Fringe Festival, where a whole variety of performing artists amaze the watching mixture of locals and avid tourists.
The live music scene is still very much thriving, however, despite many famous venues such as Tiffanys, where Iggy Pop thrilled the crowds in 1979, long since disappearing. In 2017, Edinburgh continues to attract big names and there remains a healthy smattering of famous and historical venues, mixed with trendy new ones to keep the scene going. And certainly the passionate energy of the Edinburgh locals adds to that.
Biggest gigs in Edinburgh
Murrayfield, the home of Scotland’s rugby union team, has hosted many famous gigs in the past, notably David Bowie in 1983, but this year, the venue of choice for open air mega-gigs is the famous Edinburgh Castle. Taking the stage high up on the hill will be Olly Murs, Deacon Blue, Wet, Wet, Wet and Emelie Sande.
One of the most impressive mid-sized venues is the Edinburgh Playhouse, a former cinema with a 3000 capacity, which usually caters for touring musicals and comedians. This year Van Morrison will be treading the boards there, and following in the footsteps of a legendary AC/DC gig in 1982 which virtually stripped the paint off the walls, while the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, rocked the Playhouse a year earlier in 1981. The Edinburgh Corn Exchange also has a 3000 capacity, but as an exhibition and conference centre, lacks the character of many of the city’s more attractive venues, even though it is the only all-standing venue of this size. Nevertheless, it attracted artists such as Blur, Oasis and Primal Scream in the 1990s, so clearly it has some stories to tell from Britpop’s glittering past.
The Usher Hall is a three-tiered auditorium and home to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. There is naturally a heavy leaning towards classical artists, but the lofty acoustics of the venue have created some fantastic gigs in recent years, with artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Ed Sheeran, Bon Iver and Ryan Adams playing notable shows there. The eclectic mix of artists and styles doesn’t end there though, as 2017 sees Placebo, Erasure, The National, Squeeze and Father John Misty lining up to entertain the crowds.
Use the form below to search for an artist or event.
Best live music venues in Edinburgh
Edinburgh has a number of grand venues, steeped in history and period architecture, and one of the most popular is the Queen’s Hall, a former chapel with a 900 capacity, and home to artists from the jazz, rock and folk genres. Ride and Sparks play the venue this year to continue the healthy variety in styles. Elsewhere, we have the Liquid Rooms, a 19th century church that opened as a live music venue in 1997, but was gutted by a fire in 2008, just a year after local boys Mogwai had played an epic 10th anniversary gig at the venue. Two years later it re-opened having been faithfully restored almost exactly to how it was. It is a favourite haunt for hip-hop promoters now, but has also attracted artists such as Stiff Little Fingers, Sleaford Mods and Shed Seven this year.
In terms of more intimate venues, the Electric Circus is perhaps the most popular from many smaller auditoriums around the city. Situated right next to Waverley Station, this 250-capacity venue attracts a raucous crowd visiting Edinburgh, and hosts cheap gigs pretty much every night of the week. So for the ardent, hardcore gig-goer this is one of the best venues in the city, catering mainly for the Indie rock crowd.
Clearly Edinburgh is still going strong as the live music capital of Scotland and as a cultural hotspot, it is certainly worth the effort to make a visit to one of the many fine gig venues across the city.